Pelham softball coach Sullivan retires

Pelham head softball coach Amy Sullivan (center) announced her retirement May 19, afte 14 years at the helm of the Panthers. (FILE)

Pelham head softball coach Amy Sullivan (center) announced her retirement May 19, afte 14 years at the helm of the Panthers. (FILE)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

PELHAM — After 14 years at the helm of the Pelham Panthers softball program, head coach Amy Sullivan announced she has retired from coaching.

Sullivan said she made the decision official following the Panthers’ return from the AHSAA Class 6A State Championships.

“I officially retired Monday (May 19),” she said. “The kids knew it was coming. I think things fell into place.”

Sullivan said she kept a promise to her seniors that she had coached since they began playing that she wouldn’t retire until they graduated.

“I have five seniors that have started since they stepped onto the field,” she said. “I had those seniors, (and) I knew I couldn’t retire until (they finished their careers).”

Sullivan said one of the factors in her decision was the upcoming split between Pelham High and the new Helena High. Sullivan, who teaches at Helena Elementary, said she loved both places too much to have to choose between the two schools.

“My heart is at both,” she said.

Sullivan said she was going to continue teaching and enjoying the game of softball, albeit at a much more relaxed pace.

“I still love the game,” she said. “(I’m) ready to live a little. I just feel like if there’s a time to step away, this was the year.”

Sullivan said the majority of her family lives in Georgia, and with the grinding schedule of softball, the opportunity to see her parents, whom she said were not in the best of health.

Sullivan said of all the memories she made during her career, the squad Pelham fielded the last two seasons stuck out to her.

“Between last year’s team and this year’s team, the way they got along (Stood out),” she said. “The last two years, I had not one player (or) parent issue. I kept thinking ‘This is not normal.’ No doubt in my mind there’s no way another team (will be) as close as this one. They made my job easier. I was really lucky.”

She went on to say that while she had “no idea” about her future, any rumors about her moving on to a new program were unfounded, and that she planned to enjoy retirement.

“Sometimes the best thing for a coach is to know when to say when,” she said. “I’ve taken (the Pelham program) as far as I can take it. Truth is, I’m teaching at Helena and retiring from coaching.”